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Grist List: Look what we found.


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How China will force Americans to drive electric cars

For all the Republican blather about keeping gas prices down with domestic production, pretty soon the U.S.’s effect on the market price of oil will be totally swamped by demand from the developing world. As energy futurist Chris Nelder observes at Txchnologist, nowhere is this trend better exemplified than the fact that auto sales in China recently exceeded auto sales in the U.S.

Chart source: Feng An, Innovation Center for Energy and Transportation, Beijing, 2010.

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We-Flashy sells reflective biking gear that looks like normal cool clothes

Oh yes, you're cool. Your bike looks like a Victorian gentleman. Your helmet looks like a tweed fedora. And your reflective vest looks like ... a shitty reflective vest. You have two options: Embrace ugliness as a hipness signifier (it worked for all these guys), or find reflective clothing that actually looks like something you'd wear on purpose. If you picked door No. 2, Brookyn-based (duh) company We-Flashy is here for you.

Read more: Biking, Living

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Power source of the future: Snails

Sometimes I think researchers design experiments specifically to win an Ig Nobel prize. How else do you explain a paper titled "Implanted Biofuel Cell Operating in a Living Snail"? But regardless of the intention, that's what a team of Israeli and American scientists has managed to do, according to a paper published comfortably in advance of April Fools' Day in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

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Williams-Sonoma wants to sell you a chicken coop

Sure, it’s green to raise chickens in your backyard, but it’s a tragedy that they have to live in rough-hewn, generic coops. What about your chickens’ sense of style and feng shui? Luckily, Williams-Sonoma takes this problem seriously. The company is launching a new “Agrarian” line of products, so that your chickens can live in as classy as house as you do.

As of this month, when the new line debuts, Williams-Sonoma -- best known for outfitting yuppie kitchens everywhere with high-end cookware -- has now got you covered for all your heirloom seed, backyard beehive, and kombucha-making needs. There's also an oh-so-attractive shiitake-mushroom log, so you can grow your own mushrooms while also contributing to your home’s rustic-chic charm.

Read more: Locavore

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Anti-coal campaign is ‘the most significant achievement of American environmentalists’ since the 1970s


In Mother Jones, Mark Hertsgaard makes the case for the Sierra Club's anti-coal campaign as "the most significant achievement of American environmentalists since the passage of the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act," as one source puts it. The group has shut down proposals for 166 coal-fired power plants (check out the map above or here). The key? The group was working outside of Washington, with the grassroots:

The movement's center of gravity was in the South and Midwest, "places like Oklahoma and South Dakota, not the usual liberal bastions where you'd expect environmental victories," [Mary Anne Hitt, the director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign] recalls ...

[E]conomic trends only made coal somewhat vulnerable, argues Tom Sanzillo, a former New York state deputy comptroller who has worked with the Beyond Coal campaign; it was grassroots activism that leveraged vulnerability into outright defeat. The movement's strength was grounded in retail politics—people talking with friends and neighbors, pestering local media, packing regulatory hearings, protesting before state legislatures, filing legal challenges, and more. The movement had no official membership rolls; it was populated by clean energy advocates, public health professionals, community organizers, faith leaders, farmers, attorneys, [and] students …

Ironically, as the Sierra Club was galvanizing the grassroots against coal, it was catching backlash from anti-fracking activists for being overly friendly with the natural gas industry.

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This 90-year-old on a tricycle is a total badass

Photo by Brandon Stanton.

The extraordinary Humans of New York -- which is just what it sounds like, terrific photos of humans (and the occasional head-cat) in the Big Apple -- unearthed this dude, and I think he's what we all aspire to be in 50 to 70 years. Here's what he has to say about his tricycle:

Read more: Biking, Cities

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Critical List: Warmest March on record for 25 states; LEGO hermit crab shell

Half of the United States just lived through the warmest March on record.

The EPA gave 20 companies approval to make E15, a biofuel containing more ethanol than blends available now in the U.S.

President Obama's campaign released a new video about his love-hate relationship with Big Oil.

Commercial-scale production of algae biofuel is starting in Brazil.

The Maryland state legislature is working on clearing the way for offshore wind.

Read more: Uncategorized

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How butterflies are teaching scientists about better renewable fuels

What do the latest hydrogen fuel production technology and your tramp stamp have in common? They both take inspiration from butterfly wings.

Read more: Renewable Energy

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Biodegradable slippers are the new creepy toe shoes (we hope)


I'm pretty sure this is the ultimate eco-product: a biodegradable shoe modeled after the Amazonian practice of painting resin onto one's feet to protect them.

Should you invest in these lovelies? Let us examine the advantages and disadvantages. Advantages:

  • You can dispose of them in a compost bin. (Pre-shredding required.)
  • You can get rid of the weird foot smell by washing them.
  • They roll up really tiny!
  • They are less weird-looking than those creepy shoes that look like gloves for feet.
Read more: Living